It’s a strange thing – sometimes jarring, often joyful – to realise the children you raised can now see you as an equal.
The first time they truly got to view me as a normal, fallible human being, it was far from ideal, and far, far too soon. A close family friend had died – swiftly, without warning – and I couldn’t deliver the news without bursting into tears.
Their world had already become a less safe and predictable place; an early preview of what adulthood had in store. I had hoped to be source of strength and stability in that moment. While normal and inevitable in hindsight, and ultimately an essential life experience, it was difficult to accept at the time.
Thankfully, in the years that followed, the concept of becoming an ordinary person in their eyes proved far more positive. It was not a sudden change, but a gradual shift in perception. I could see the revelation unfolding, piece by piece, conversation by conversation, year by year.
The car talks with my son became more and more involved. The closer he got to adulthood, the more his curiosity steered toward my life at his age. He was eager to put himself in both his parents’ shoes. I couldn’t help but swell with pride every time I saw that sense of empathy mature.
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But the biggest shift has only come recently, now my daughter is preparing to become a parent herself. Now she’s living the experience, she can truly appreciate the secret every generation keeps: the fact that we’re all making this up as we go along.
When I speak to my children today, I am speaking with friends and equals. I can confess to making mistakes without feeling I’m shattering their worldview, just as they are more comfortable sharing their true selves with me. The transition is still an ongoing one. It hasn’t always been easy, and sometimes the new dynamic still throws me off-guard to this day – but I genuinely look forward to seeing where it takes us.
When did your children first see you as human? How easy was it to process this adjustment?